What Is Pulmonary Fibrosis?
The medical term “fibrosis” is the development of fibrous connective tissue, thickening and scarring of connective tissue, as a reparative response to damage or injury. The term fibrosis can be used to refer to:
- the connective tissue deposition that occurs as part of the normal healing process
- the excess deposition of tissue as part of a pathological process.
There are different types of fibrosis that can occur in the body, depending on the affected organ: pulmonary fibrosis, cardiac fibrosis, liver cirrhosis. Pulmonary fibrosis is not cystic fibrosis, even though it involves scarring as well. Cardiac fibrosis is usually a result of myocardial infarction and can affect the muscles in the heart but also the valves. Liver cirrhosis presents areas of scar tissue and nodules that replace the normal liver tissue and alter liver function. Alcoholism, hepatitis viruses and fatty liver disease can cause or further agravate this.
Pulmonary fibrosis – refers to multiple lung conditions that cause interstitial lung damage and scarring. It can also occur as a comorbidity in various other diseases. If the underlying cause is unknown the term idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is used.
In pulmonary fibrosis the interstitial damage, scarring and fibrosis will cause loss of lung elasticity and functionality. The main symptoms are:
- persistent cough
- shortness of breath
- difficulty breathing due to inflammation
- chest pain
- fatigue due to lack of oxygen
There are three types of pulmonary fibrosis:
- Replacement fibrosis – occurs as a result of disrupted repairing process in lung damage caused by infarction, pneumonia or tuberculosis infection.
- Focal fibrosis – occurs as a response to inhaled substances that cause irritation in lymph tissue where the fibrosis begins. Commonly seen with substances such as asbestos and silica (silicosis).
- Diffuse parenchymal lung disease (DPLD) – this occurs with allergies and affects the lung alveoli, leading fibrosis in the alveoli due to persistent inflammation caused by allergic triggers (dust, animal dander, pollen, etc.)
In most cases the underlying factors that cause pulmonary fibrosis develop over many years and the most affected age range is between 50 to 70 years. Avoiding the risk factors will help to prevent pulmonary fibrosis and further improve ling health.
The risk factors are:
- Exposure to occupational substances and fumes that may cause lung damage
- GERD – Gastro esophageal reflux disease
- Respiratory infections with pneumonia and tuberculosis
You can manage pulmonary fibrosis with these preventative methods, medication, good respiratory hygiene and healthy lifestyle.
Salt aerosol is known to clean the respiratory system and reduce inflammation. Living by the ocean and/or using home salt therapy for at least 7-8 hours daily will make a real difference in quality of life. Long term exposure to salt particles will strengthen respiratory immunity and improve breathing, so that more oxygen will get into the blood stream.